I'm a fan of Stephen King's writing, but not of (most) of his stories. I believe the modern world holds enough horror, that I don't need to read about made up horror for pleasure. To each her own. When this one came out and started getting some buzz, my ears perked up about the time travel premise. Jake Epping, an English teacher, reads "A Day My Life Changed" essay about brutal murders and life altering injuries and--although he isn't a crying man--the tears flow. When a friend of his, Al, the owner of a local diner, shows him a way to go back in time and "fix" things like preventing this man's family from being murdered and Kennedy's assassination, he takes on the assignment. The hitch? The past doesn't want to be changed and fights tooth and nail, providing myriad (sometimes life-threatening) obstacles for Jake to overcome. There are compensations in the past with warm friends and a good woman, but what are the consequences to the present?
This one is a door stopper at nearly 900 pages, but it kept me up late every night until I finished it. Jake, Al and the cast of the past are compelling and complicated characters; the late fifties/early sixties depicted with all its nostalgic Mayberry small town simplicity and racist/sexist warts exposed; the ending delivered; the research into the culture of the time period is stunning--slang, dress, music, dance, cars, TV, medical procedures, etc. King did his homework. Which brings me to my only gripe and the reason I give it four stars rather than five. There were a couple of long stretches where we get way more info on Lee Harvey Oswald, his movements and his acquaintances than we really need to be involved in the story. Those sections dragged for me, but I read every word hoping it would give me more insight into Jake's story. Others might find it fascinating, but I didn't. As a historical fiction writer, I know the temptation to include all that research just because you did a hell of a lot of work digging it up. King should have resisted. That said, I found 11/22/63 (generally) a compelling and entertaining read.
- Title: 11/22/63
- Author: Stephen King
- ISBN-13: 9781451627305
- Publisher: Scribner
- Publication date: 11/8/2011
- Format: eBook (also available in HB, PB and audio book)
- Pages: 864